Louisiana Medical Marijuana Patients Gain Safe Access to Smokable Weed

Cannabis in bag and joint on yellow background.

The use of marijuana has come a long way but the downside is that the journey has been controversial. After researchers have proven that it has a lot to offer, medically speaking, many states have approved its use for both recreational and medical purposes which has affected marijuana packaging. More and more states have passed their laws, but the question remains: is medical marijuana legal in Louisiana?

The lawmakers of Louisiana have approved a bill that gives patients in the medical marijuana program of the state access to cannabis in smokable form. The measure under House Bill 391 got approved by the House of the state or its Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 76 to 17 after it got approved last month by the Senate of the state with a vote of 23 to 14.

The new Louisiana Bill

The House gave its final approval to the medical flower proposal with an overwhelming vote. The earlier form of the legislation passed last month shows that the lawmakers in the House must concur with the amendments before it can move to Governor John Bel Edwards (D) to make it into law. If signed into law, this could become an important expansion of the current program of the state. At present, Louisiana medical marijuana laws only allow patients to use vaporized cannabis preparations through a “metered-dose inhaler.” They can’t consume the whole flower nor smoke cannabis products.

Another House-passed bill, which is the companion of HB 391, will impose taxes on medical cannabis flowers, and this bill is now advancing through the Senate. Recently, the House approved a floor amendment that will extend the general sales tax of the state and direct the revenue to infrastructure utilities and projects. But this got recommitted to the committee before they held the final vote. The Finance Committee of the House approved a revised version of the bill, then returned it.

The Senate will also consider a decriminalization proposal that will make the possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis punishable by law. Offenders will pay a fine of $100 without jail time. Last month, the House approved this measure. All of these developments came after the effort to legalize marijuana in the state more broadly stalled in the House.

Magee’s Bill

With a vote of 12-1, the House Health and Welfare Committee passed Magee’s bill. This allows patients to access the smokable and raw form of Louisiana marijuana if they can obtain a written note from their doctor. Right now, Louisiana has 9 dispensaries and 2 growers but patients can only get products in non-smoking forms like gummies, inhalers, and tinctures.

According to Magee’s argument, Louisiana will get left behind by Mississippi and Arkansas, which have already authorized smokable forms of marijuana for medical purposes. The marijuana products sold today in the state are very expensive, partly they undergo costly processing to get transformed into tinctures. Magee also emphasized that allowing the sales of the plant’s raw form will bring down the prices.

When it comes to marijuana use, opinions have become more mellow in Louisiana. Magee said that there is a way to provide a cheaper type of medication that relieves pain by allowing consumers to buy the crude or raw form of marijuana. Consumers in other states have access to this form – it’s what the people need and it’s what they want.

Magee also has a bill that will impose taxes on the plant’s raw form. Right now, the medical marijuana products on the market are all exempted from sales taxes. Magee’s other bill passed through the House early this week. But other cannabis products would still remain exempt.

Louisiana’s legislature has always been increasingly conservative, especially in terms of marijuana laws. But the attitudes seem to be gradually shifting among the lawmakers and the public, especially since patients had the opportunity to legally access the drug back in 2019. Also, the Senate has a new group of lawmakers who support medical marijuana and are more amenable to the program.

Benefits for registered patients

Under the new law, registered patients in the medical marijuana program of the state are legally allowed to use or possess unprocessed and smokable forms of marijuana. This is good news for those who manufacture cannabis packaging from flower and edible packaging to pre-roll packaging and more. The existing regulations only permitted patients to access cannabis products like tinctures, topicals, inhalers, and gummies that deliver a measured dose with each use. Its raw and smokable forms were both prohibited.

Republican House Speaker Pro-tem Tanner Magee sponsored the bill and stated that the approved products are too costly for many of the patients using medical marijuana in Louisiana. Also, most of these products aren’t covered by insurance. He also said that the approval of the bill will provide patients with more affordable options. Magee’s bill (HB391), was originally approved in the House of Representatives back in May. But since the bill got amended by the Senate of the state, the House had to vote again after some revisions. The measure was overwhelmingly supported by both houses.

After the bill’s approval, Magee said that the raw form is extremely popular in other states and it’s what patients need. Larry Bagley, the Republican state representative, noted that he had never tried smoking marijuana. But he did admit that cannabis was a “miracle drug” for one of his close relatives who suffered from chronic pain.

Decriminalization law is a possibility too

Louisiana’s Legislature is also questioning an action that will legalize the ownership of certain percentages of marijuana among adults. The HB 652 solution will consider the possession of approximately 14 grams of marijuana to get penalized by paying a fee on the 1st and 2nd violations. Minor cannabis possession offenses would still be violations but the person in violation won’t have to serve jail time.

The Legislature allowed HB652 on Might 11 along with help from the participants of each main political event. Some of the most extensive metropolitan areas in Louisiana like Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and New Orleans have acted for the legalization of low-level cannabis property.

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